EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines

University of Nottingham
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Francesca Gavins

CDT student, UCL School of Pharmacy


Francesca Gavins

Francesca is a 1st year CDT student investigating the effects of food on oral drug absorption. Before starting the CDT Francesca graduated from UCL School of Pharmacy with a Master of Pharmacy (First Class Honours). During her final year she undertook a research project at the University of Copenhagen under the supervision of Prof. Camilla Foged researching the project entitled ‘Design of a mucosal adjuvant based on glycol chitosan-coated lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles for vaccination against chlamydia’.  She then underwent a pre-registration year in a hospital pharmacy and is now a qualified and practising pharmacist.

Her first mini-project in the academic setting was exploring electrospraying for the zero-order drug release nanoparticles for CNS regeneration under the supervision of Dr Gareth Williams and Dr James Philips. Her second mini-project was at Pfizer investigating the dissolution of HPMC capsules.

Current Research

PhD Project Title: Food for Thought: Rational formulation design using food as excipient

Supervisor: Dr Mine Orlu, Prof Abdul Basit

Project summary: 

The concept of food effect has been widely explored by food technology, physical, biochemical and engineering sciences. However, food remains an unexploited topic within the domain of pharmaceutical engineering given its inevitable effect on the performance of orally administered medicine. Knowledge of the appropriate design of drug formulations is crucial to our understanding of manufacturing technologies enabling the optimised oral bioavailability of drugs taken with food or following a meal.

The aim of this project is to develop tailored oral formulations by 1) exploiting food as excipients (nutrients and permeation enhancers can be used interchangeably) to increase oral drug bioavailability and 2) investigating the pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies to develop oral drug delivery systems in order to mitigate food effects due to inefficient time of dosing and the influence of membrane transporters in males and females. The developed prototype formulations will be tested in vivo (differing in age and sex; at fasted and fed state) to verify whether the tailored formulation design approach overcomes the effect of food consumption, time of administration, age and sex.


Rose F, Wern JE, Gavins F, Andersen P, Follman F, Foged C (2018) A strong adjuvant based on glycol-chitosan-coated lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles potentiates mucosal immune response against the recombinant Chlamydia trachomatis fusion antigen CTH522, Journal of Controlled Release, 10;271:88-97, doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2017.12.003


EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines


The University of Nottingham
School of Pharmacy
Boots Science Building
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
t: +44(0)115 823 2121
e: Claudia.Matz@nottingham.ac.uk

University College London
School of Pharmacy
University College London
29-39 Brunswick Square,
London WC1N 1AX.
t: +44 (0) 20 7753 5948
e: s.marks.pharm@ucl.ac.uk